As always, it’s the media’s fault

There is one thing that conservatives and liberals have in common. No matter what’s wrong in this country, it is always the media’s fault.

And if the United States loses the war in Iraq, as it most likely will, the conservatives will blame the media.

Writes Max Boot in The Los Angeles Times:

If we wind up losing the war in Iraq, as now appears likely (though not inevitable), many conservatives know who to blame: the press, or, in blogger-speak, the MSM (mainstream news media). Just as it did during the Vietnam War, a myth is likely to develop in which America’s valiant fighting men and women were stabbed in the back by unpatriotic, even treasonous, reporters.

Administration spokesmen and many soldiers have been saying for years that things aren’t so bad in Iraq. “If you just watched what’s happening every time there’s a bomb going off in Baghdad, you’d think the whole country’s aflame,” Donald Rumsfeld declared for the umpteenth time just before leaving office. “But you fly over it, and that’s just simply not the case.”

Such protestations are natural from someone who’s likely to go down in history as Robert McNamara redux. But this refrain has been taken up by even the most sophisticated and disinterested observers on the right. James Q. Wilson, a longtime professor at Harvard, UCLA and Pepperdine, published a scathing essay in the autumn issue of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal in which he complained that “positive stories about progress in Iraq were just a small fraction of all the broadcasts.” He went on to draw an analogy with the Tet offensive in 1968, which the press widely reported as an American failure even though it was a military defeat for North Vietnam.

“We won the Second World War in Europe and Japan,” he concluded, “but we lost in Vietnam and are in danger of losing in Iraq and Lebanon in the newspapers, magazines and television programs we enjoy.”